Tag Archives: LGD

Linked Data: From interoperable to interoperating

Archaeogeomancy: Digital Heritage Specialists - archaeological geomatics - the majick of spatial data in archaeology - archaeological information systems for the digital age:

Piazza Mercato, Siena

Piazza Mercato, Siena

Videos of all the presentations in this CAA session, held in Siena 2015, which I blogged about earlier. Full credit and thanks due to Doug Rocks-Macqueen and his Recording Archaeology project for recording and making this and other sessions available (see also the session on ArchaeoFOSS and the keynotes). Thanks also to Leif Isaksen and Keith May for organising and chairing the session.

The session outline:

Linked Data and Semantic Web based approaches to data management have now become commonplace in the field of heritage. So commonplace in fact, that despite frequent mention in digital literature, and a growing familiarity with concepts such as URIs and RDF across the domain, it is starting to see fall off in Computer Science conferences and journals as many of the purely technical issues are seen to be ‘solved’. So is the revolution over? We propose that until the benefits of Linked Data are seen in real interconnections between independent systems it will not properly have begun. This session will discuss the socio-technical challenges required to build a concrete Semantic Web in the heritage sector.

The videos for the accepted papers:

  • The Syrian Heritage Project in the IT infrastructure of the German Archaeological InstitutePhilipp Gerth, Sebastian Cuy (video)
  • Using CIDOC CRM for dynamically querying ArSol, a relational database, from the semantic webOlivier Marlet, Stéphane Curet, Xavier Rodier, Béatrice Bouchou-Markhoff (video)
  • How to move from Relational to Linked Open Data 5 Star – a numismatic exampleKarsten Tolle, David Wigg-Wolf (video)
  • The Labeling System: A bottom-up approach for enriched vocabularies in the humanitiesFlorian Thiery, Thomas Engel (video)
  • From interoperable to interoperating Geosemantic resourcesPaul J Cripps, Douglas Tudhope (video)

The playlist for the session:

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From interoperable to interoperating Geosemantic resources

Archaeogeomancy: Digital Heritage Specialists - archaeological geomatics - the majick of spatial data in archaeology - archaeological information systems for the digital age:

Ospedale Psichiatrico - the conference venue, aka the Asylum...

Ospedale Psichiatrico – the conference venue, aka (rather appropriately, perhaps) the Asylum…


Following on from my earlier post on CAA2015, my presentation entitled From interoperable to interoperating Geosemantic resources is now available on YouTube thanks to Doug Rocks-Macqueen and his Recording Archaeology project. Indeed, there are a whole collection of presentations from the conference (and numerous others conferences) available, all thanks to Doug’s dedication; his work is a great asset to the community and the growing resource he is creating is of enormous benefit so all thanks due to Doug.

Anyway, back on topic.

There is a competition with a super special prize for the person who guesses correctly the number of times I say ‘um’ during the presentation; answers on a postcard please :-)

Whilst in Siena, as well as hearing all the fantastically interesting talks and networking over a beer or two, there was a little time for some sightseeing and photography:

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GSTAR @ Computer Applications in Archaeology (CAA) 2015

Archaeogeomancy: Digital Heritage Specialists - archaeological geomatics - the majick of spatial data in archaeology - archaeological information systems for the digital age:

Conference

Conference

Following on from my presentation at CAA2014 in Paris, I was invited to submit a paper to a session at CAA2015 covering Linked Data (LD) and focussing on the difference between being theoretically interoperable and interoperating in practice.

Conference Session

The session abstract is as follows:

Linked Data and Semantic Web based approaches to data management have now become commonplace in the field of heritage. So commonplace in fact, that despite frequent mention in digital literature, and a growing familiarity with concepts such as URIs and RDF across the domain, it is starting to see fall off in Computer Science conferences and journals as many of the purely technical issues are seen to be ‘solved’. So is the revolution over? We propose that until the benefits of Linked Data are seen in real interconnections between independent systems it will not properly have begun. This session will discuss the socio-technical challenges required to build a concrete Semantic Web in the heritage sector.

We particularly invite papers that offer practical approaches and experience relating to:

  • Interface development and user support for ingestion, annotation and consumption
  • Management, publication and sustainability of Linked Data resources
  • Building cross and inter-domain Linked Data communities
  • Processes for establishing usage conventions of specific terms, vocabularies and ontologies
  • Alignment processes for overlapping vocabularies
  • Engage non-technical users with adopting semantic technologies
  • Licensing and acknowledgment in distributed systems (especially those across multiple legal jurisdictions)
  • Incorporation within other software paradigms: TEI, GIS, plain text, imaging software, VR, etc.
  • Access implications of integrating open and private content
  • Mapping the Field – what components are now properly in place? What remains to be done?

Papers should try to provide evidence of proposed approaches in use across multiple systems wherever possible. Purely theoretical papers and those dealing solely with a single data system are explicitly out of scope for this session.

Keywords: Linked Data, Semantic Web, Web Science

Conference Paper

The abstract for the paper is as follows:

From interoperable to interoperating Geosemantic resources; practical examples of producing and using Linked Geospatial Data

Paul Cripps, University of South Wales (paul.cripps@southwales.ac.uk);

Douglas Tudhope, University of South Wales (douglas.tudhope@southwales.ac.uk)

Keywords: Geospatial; Linked Data; ontology; CIDOC CRM; GeoSPARQL

The concept of using geospatial information within Semantic Web and Linked Data environments is not new. For example, geospatial information was very much at the heart of the CRMEH archaeological extension to the CIDOC CRM a decade ago (Cripps et al. 2004) although this was not implemented; a review of the situation regarding geosemantics in 2005 commented “the semantic web is not ready to provide the expressiveness in terms of rules and language for geospatial application” (O’Dea et al. 2005 p.73). It is only recently that Linked Geospatial Data has begun to become a reality through works such as GeoSPARQL (Perry & Herring 2012; Battle & Kolas 2012), a W3C/OGC standard, and the emerging CRMgeo standard (Doerr & Hiebel 2013). This paper presents some real world, practical examples of creating and working with archaeological geosemantic resources using currently available standards and Open Source tools.

The first example demonstrates a lightweight mapping between the CRMEH, CIDOC CRM and GeoSPARQL ontologies using data available from the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) digital archive and Linked Data repository. The second example demonstrates the use of Ordnance Survey (OS) Open Data within a Linked Data resource published via the ADS Linked Data repository. Both examples feature the use of Open Source tools including the STELLAR toolkit, Open Refine, Parliament, OS OpenSpace API and custom components developed and released under open license.

The first example will also be placed in the context of the GSTAR project which is using the approaches described to produce Linked Geospatial Data for research purposes from commonly used platforms for managing archaeological resources within the UK heritage sector. These include the Historic Buildings and Sites and Monuments Record  (HBSMR) software from exeGesIS, used by UK Historic Environment Records (HERs), and MODES, used by museums for managing museum collections. As such, the outputs from the GSTAR project have wider applicability in moving geosemantic information from interoperable to interoperating in the UK.

Battle, R. & Kolas, D., 2012. GeoSPARQL: Enabling a Geospatial Semantic Web. Semantic Web Journal, 0(0), pp.1–17.

Cripps, P. et al., 2004. Ontological Modelling of the work of the Centre for Archaeology, Heraklion. Available at: http://cidoc.ics.forth.gr/docs/Ontological_Modelling_Project_Report_ Sep2004.pdf.

Doerr, M. & Hiebel, G., 2013. CRMgeo : Linking the CIDOC CRM to GeoSPARQL through a Spatiotemporal Refinement, Heraklion.

O’Dea, D., Geoghegan, S. & Ekins, C., 2005. Dealing with geospatial information in the semantic web. In AOW ’05 Proceedings of the 2005 Australasian Ontology Workshop – Volume 58. pp. 69–73. Available at: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1151945 [Accessed April 13, 2013].

Perry, M. & Herring, J., 2012. OGC GeoSPARQL – A Geographic Query Language for RDF Data, Available at: http://www.opengis.net/doc/IS/geosparql/1.0.

GSTAR @ CAA: From interoperable to Interoperating

My work on the GSTAR project addresses exactly the issues raised in the session abstract through an investigation of the application of Linked Geospatial Data (LGD) and semantic web techniques for archaeological research purposes; This investigation builds on conceptual structures such as the CIDOC CRM, CRM-EH and GeoSPARQL, incorporating real world archaeological data from a range of sources through to providing working technology demonstrators. This was illustrated through the use of case studies based on my research and also through my work on projects such as the Colonisation of Britain project, undertaken for Wessex Archaeology, and the Later Silbury project, being undertaken for Historic England; the former resulted in a Linked Data resource now online at the Archaeology Data Service and the latter will do too upon completion.

Focussing on producing and then using LGD, my talk looked at the background to my research, the methods, techniques and tools used and some of the pitfalls and successes in creating interoperating LGD resources. I had hoped to be a bit further ahead and be able to demonstrate some map based querying and visualisation in action but at the time, these elements were not ready and interacting with a SPARQL endpoint is hardly the most audience grabbing activity! The research was also put into the context of the broader historic environment sector in England by showing how interoperating geosemantic resources could form the backbone of a digital ecosystem to support research, management and development control functions for a broad range of sectoral user groups.

Where next?

Since returning from Siena, work has proceeded apace to finalise the geosemantic resource ready for the next phase of activity; taking real world archaeological research questions and expressing these using GeoSPARQL queries to demonstrate the way in which such resources can be used for research purposes. Part of this involves engaging domain experts to see where and how their research interests can be elucidated through the applications of such approaches (more on this here).

Ultimately, the querying and results visualisation components will be housed in a web based interface, hiding the complexity of SPARQL endpoints, to demonstrate how geosemantic resources can underpin user focussed research tools such as Virtual Learning Environments. Whilst it would have been nice to present more of this at CAA2015, the plan is now to complete this phase over the summer ready for a fully fledged demonstration of the whole (completed and submitted) research project at CAA2016 in Oslo.

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Colonisation of Britain

Archaeogeomancy: Digital Heritage Specialists - archaeological geomatics - the majick of spatial data in archaeology - archaeological information systems for the digital age:

Colonisation of Britain Linked Data

Colonisation of Britain Linked Data

The Colonisation of Britain project was undertaken by Wessex Archaeology, commissioned by English Heritage, and involved the digitisation of the archive material of Roger Jacobi.

The project aimed to provide a comprehensive survey of the Upper Palaeolithic resource, with a pilot study of the Mesolithic in England involving three counties. A comprehensive survey of these periods (c.38,000-c 6500 BP) was considered of particular importance because many of the sites and find spots represent evidence for the recolonisation of Britain after the Last Glacial Maximum by hominid groups. Unlike earlier recolonisations this event is part of the most northerly early migration of social groups of anatomically modern humans.

The major primary source of data for the survey is the invaluable and extensive archive compiled over many years by the late Dr Roger Jacobi. Securing this archive was identified as a priority in itself. The project included the digitisation of the Jacobi Archive, both as an image dataset and as a structured relational database, enhanced with additional information from SMR/HERs.

One of the outputs from the project is a Linked Data version of the outputs and Archaeogeomancy were pleased to be commissioned to undertake this component.

Method

The work was undertaken using the Stellar toolkit, produced by the Hypermedia Research Unit at the University of South Wales. This is a freely available toolkit which facilitates the creation of Linked Data resources from tabular data, either in the form of delimited text files or relational databases. The source material used was the outputs available from Wessex Archaeology and soon to be available from the Archaeology Data Service, where the Linked Data will also soon be available.

The method for working with the data using the Stellar toolkit involves two main processes. Firstly, the data is mapped to one or both of the ontologies supported by the toolkit, namely the CRM-EH (for archaeological fieldwork data) which is an extension to the other ontology supported, namely the CIDOC CRM which supports the full range of cultural heritage information. For the Colonisation of Britain project, a mapping was undertaken the the main CIDOC CRM ontology as the data does not relate to archaeological investigations, rather describes collections of objects from the Jacobi archive.

The second stage is to create templates representing this mapping for use with the Stellar application. This uses the templates and the source data to produce CIDOC CRM compliant Linked Data in the form of RDF files. The format of the templates is defined by the String Template system, “a java template engine (with ports for C#, Python) for generating source code, web pages, emails, or any other formatted text output“. The user defined templates created for this project reference the core Stellar templates written by Ceri Binding (University of South Wales) which do most of the heavy lifting.

A further stage was also undertaken to align geospatial elements of the source data with Ordnance Survey data. Where placenames occurred in the source data, these were converted to Ordnance Survey OpenSpace URIs using the Open Refine platform drawing on the OS Reconciliation API (see below for details). This included parish and county names which were linked to the OS BoundaryLine dataset. A further piece of work will be undertaken which will take this one step further and add GeoSPARQL nodes to the Linked Data resource, enabling the data to be more fully included in Linked Geospatial Data graphs.

Mapping

This mapping describes the data as it is stored in the digitised version of the Jacobi archive; this means that some concepts are not fully resolved, for example places of origin, as it cannot be stated with certainty that any two identical place names refer to the same place. It is of course, still possible to query the semantic data using the longer chains so for example with respect to place names, whilst two occurrences of the same place name are represented in the output Linked Data as two distinct places, they can be linked by virtue of having the same place name appellation.

The heart of the Linked Data resource is each collection of artefacts described by the original card index. This is modelled as the CIDOC CRM concept E78 Collection. Each artefact collection is described by an index card (E31 Document) which documents the collection itself as well as the ‘site’ ie the place of origin (E53 Place). Where specific spatial coordinates exist, these have been included as appellations of the spatial nodes (E47 Spatial Coordinates). Spatial metadata such as precision is represented as classifications of the spatial nodes (using E54 Dimensions, E58 Measurement Units and E55 Type).

The artefact collection can form part of a larger collection, for example a named collection (E78 Collection) curated by a museum (E40 Legal Body), and is classified using the classificatory schemes used by both Jacobi and Wessex Archaeology through their enhancement (all using E55 Type). Additional information is stored as notes associated with particular concepts as appropriate. The index cards describe collections by material type so the resultant Linked Data does likewise, with each collection having a type of material (E57 Material).

Finally, assertions made through the project by the specialists were the product of a specific activity (E13 Attribute Assignment). This allows each collection to be associated with an archaeological period (eg Mesolithic) represented here as a purely temporal concept (E49 Time Appellation) and this linkage can be extended as required to link to eg the Heritage Data period resources, represented using SKOS.

Open Refine

The Open Refine platform is a very useful way of converting spatial data stored as text strings (eg names of counties, parishes, etc) into URIs suitable for inclusion in Linked Data resources. For details on how to use this, see the official Ordnance Survey documentation and also this very helpful blog by John Goodwin.

Visualisation

The Linked Data data can be visualised in a variety of ways. The image presented here have been created using Gruff to be demonstrative of the shape of the Linked Data. The image shown here illustrates the overall shape of the resource using one specific record; the collection, associated places, classifications, curatorial organisations and the project itself can all be seen. Also noteworthy are the nodes in the bottom right of the image which relate to the Ordnance Survey TOIDs referenced in this case.

Example showing the Linked Data for record 00748

Example showing the Linked Data for record 00748 (click for a larger view)

Templates

The Stellar templates used for the project are included here for information. They are dependent on the CRM-EH and CRM templates distributed with the Stellar Toolkit. Templates are distributed using a Creative Commons license so do make use of them for any purpose, the only restriction on usage is that proper attribution be made.

For more information on writing custom templates, see the Stellar Tools documentation, the String Template documentation or get in touch.

Acknowledgements

Thanks are due to Chris Brayne and Matt Leivers (Wessex Archaeology) for commissioning the project and doing all the really hard work successfully undertaking the main Colonisation of Britain project. A big thanks to Ceri Binding (University of South Wales) for support on the Stellar Toolkit and thanks also to Michael Charno (Archaeology Data Service) for liaising over ADS handover and specific requirements.

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